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The 100 best dishes in Chicago 2014: Drinks

Chicago's best drinks range from beautiful tiki cocktails to healthy juices, with a few beers for good measure

Amy Cavanaugh
Written by
Amy Cavanaugh
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With a spate of new cocktail bars and breweries, this was a very good drinking year in Chicago. Three Dots and a Dash and the Aviary picked up awards at national (and international) levels, while new breweries Off Color, Forbidden Root and Moody Tongue released exceptional beers as soon as they launched. And, of course, we didn't only drink booze this year—a Chinese tea shop and a glam juicer also made our list. Here are the 20 best drinks in Chicago this year.

RECOMMENDED: The 100 best dishes and drinks in Chicago

Jungle Bird at the Aviary
  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • West Loop

Charles Joly recently departed the Aviary, but he wowed us earlier this year with his inventive take on the Jungle Bird, a tiki classic. With layers of pineapple-lime syrup, Campari mixed with spherified rum balls, Caña Brava rum and Gosling’s rum, the drink was as striking as it was delicious. $28.

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Old Ivory Egg at Billy Sunday
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Logan Square

Barkeep Alex Bachman begged us not to think of this savory tomato cocktail as a Bloody Mary, and how could we? With tomato water, lime, miso, ramp bitters, caraway liqueur and tequila-like Bacanora, Bloody Marys wish they could be this elegant. No longer available.

Kringle Cream from Death’s Door Distillery

Kringle Cream from Death’s Door Distillery

A liqueur that tastes like a Kringle could only come from our wonderful neighbor to the north. Luckily, Wisconsin shares this rum-based liqueur with us, and it’s ideal slipped into coffee. $19.99.

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Sublime Ginger from Forbidden Root

Sublime Ginger from Forbidden Root

This new brewery has fast become one of our favorites, in part for this wheat beer, which is gingery and herbal, with a hint of lime. $10.99/four-pack.
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Girolamo Sour at Lone Wolf
  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • West Loop
Lone Wolf is Randolph Row’s best spot for a pre-dinner drink or nightcap, and there’s no better way to end your evening than with Stephen Cole’s Girolamo Sour, a frothy, lightly bitter mix of Luxardo Amaro Abano, Luxardo bitters, lemon, simple syrup and egg white. $12.
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Crushed Green Coriander Wit from Moody Tongue Brewing Company

Crushed Green Coriander Wit from Moody Tongue Brewing Company

Jared Rouben uses chef techniques to brew “culinary beers,” so it’s no surprise this clean, lightly herbal beer works so well with food—we’ve had it with cheeseburgers, roasted chicken and salads. Price varies by bar.
Troublesome from Off Color Brewing

Troublesome from Off Color Brewing

It’s hard to pick a favorite beer from newcomer Off Color Brewing, but this gose, which combines a sour beer with a wheat beer, is just the kind of perfectly structured brew we’ve come to expect from this brewery. $9.99/six-pack.

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Amaro shot at Sportsman’s Club
  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • Ukrainian Village
The only thing better than the taxidermy décor and checkerboard tables at Sportsman’s Club is the amaro shot, an ever-changing bittersweet blend of several amari, (like Cynar, Fernet-Branca, Averna and Cocchi Rosa) that goes down way too easy. $4.
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Marooned on Coffee Island at the Dawson
  • Restaurants
  • American
  • River West/West Town

Coffee Island sounds like a lovely place to be shipwrecked, especially if you also have funky Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Rum, Mt. Gay Black Barrel Rum, Stumptown cold brew coffee, salt-roasted plantains, PX sherry, mole bitters and cinnamon so you can make this drink. $12.

Deep Dish Manhattan at Tippling Hall
  • Bars
  • River North
Could there possibly be a more Chicago drink than a Malört-spiked Manhattan that smells exactly like deep dish pizza? It’s practically your civic duty to drink this while snacking on the oregano oil–spritzed crisp that accompanies the cocktail. $13.
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Tableside Manhattan at Travelle
  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • River North
Order this drink and a bartender will wheel over a cart and stir your choice of six whiskies (we chose Oban 14-year Scotch) with bitters, Carpano Antica vermouth and Benedictine, then garnish it with a skewer of brandied cherries. Technically a Bobby Burns, this drink is perfectly balanced with a presentation straight out of Mad Men. $30.
Grape gimlet at Vera
  • Restaurants
  • Spanish
  • West Loop
Concord grapes from Michigan’s Mick Klug Farm turn this basic Small’s Gin gimlet into a lovely autumnal cocktail. Seasonal.
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Milk Maid at The Whistler
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Logan Square
Creamy and refreshing, this summery tequila, coconut milk, cucumber and salt cocktail is so good it’s stuck around well after the temperatures dropped. $8.
Dead Reckoning at Three Dots and a Dash
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • River North
The star of former bar director Paul McGee’s second cocktail menu, Dead Reckoning turns to Armagnac, port and vanilla to add depth to the mix of aged Jamaican rum, pineapple, lemon and angostura bitters. $13.
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